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Cowabunga: Surf Box
Various Artists
Cowabunga: Surf Box
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Rock, Soundtracks, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (19) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #4

California may be the largest state in the Union, but it's only one state nuzzling one ocean, with only so many people living near the coastline, and a small minority of them have attempted to navigate waves on a board, mu...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Cowabunga: Surf Box
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Rhino / Wea
Original Release Date: 5/21/1996
Release Date: 5/21/1996
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Rock, Soundtracks, Classic Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Soft Rock, By Decade, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, Folk Rock, Oldies & Retro, Country Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaCD Credits: 4
UPC: 081227241827

California may be the largest state in the Union, but it's only one state nuzzling one ocean, with only so many people living near the coastline, and a small minority of them have attempted to navigate waves on a board, much less possess the fetching physique to do so in public. Obviously, then, surf music isn't for surfers. If it were, Rhino would put out a greatest-hits EP instead of a four-disc box set. Cowabunga! is all the permanent-wave stuff most people will ever need. The discs are arranged in a curious manner: disc 1, "Ground Swells," chronicles the years from 1960 to 1963; disc 2 features nothing but recordings from '63; the third CD runs from '63 to '67; and the coda captures the postpunk renaissance that began in '77. Curious, isn't it, that there was so little going on in surf between '67 and '77? Maybe Jimi Hendrix almost killed it when he promised (in 1967!), "You'll never hear surf music again" on "Third Stone from the Sun." But Hendrix is dead, and Dick Dale lives! So, too, do the Revels, the Beach Boys, the Surfaris, Annette Funicello, the Ventures, and dozens of others. At least they do in this anthology. By the way, "cowabunga" is "a yell of excitement by a surfer." You learn that from the helpful glossary included in the excellent liner notes by John Blair, leader of Jon & the Nightriders. As to the lasting appeal of surf music, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it's mostly instrumental. People make jokes about dumb California blonds, but the ones who made most of the classic surf sides knew one thing: it's wise at times to keep your mouth shut and play! --Steven Stolder

CD Reviews

Seek it out, pay top dollar, befriend the Mob...just FIND IT
Brooke Pennington | Pocatello, ID USA | 07/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This set, as I have noticed after a year of searching, is a wee bit hard to find. However, I would like to plead that anyone who come across this review purchase the set at any cost (and that anyone from Rhino who comes across this review give a thought to reissuing it).I am not a fanatic about surf music; I consider myself an enthusiastic casual listener. Older surf music is adorable, bubbly, and bouncy; newer surf music tends to sound darker and a little more ironic. This box set provides a stellar sampling of both worlds. The first two discs are full of early gems; the second disc covers the decline of surf music in the late sixties, and the final disc gives a tantalizing peek into modern surf-revival music.The advantages of a set like this are numerous. First, and foremost to me, entire albums by a single surf band can start to sound repetitive and the songs run together after a while. With this box set, you have CDs that cover the same period but mix up tracks from all sorts of different bands that were all making music at the same time. This way you get the positive sameness of the basic surf sounds without the negative sameness of a single band starting to sound repetitive. Secondly, you can really see the evolution of surf through the chronological song arrangement. The early songs are very simple musically, and don't really vary too much. By the last disc you have music that borrows from surf (such as the Surf Punks) alongside genuine revivalists. My final lump of praise for this set is the quirkiness of some of the song choices. The aforementioned Surf Punks, for example, mix 70's punk with surf conventions. Modern surf bands add a jazzier or loungier edge to their music. And finally, I would like to speak up in praise of the inclusion of some vocal tracks on the set. Where would surf be without the Beach Boys? Sure, they may have commercialized the genre and stolen the spotlight, but they are a vital part of the surf scene and its evolution. I would even venture to say that they have helped the genre stay afloat through some of the dark and ironic periods in recent culture. The few vocal tracks which are included blend well and do not follow each other, so that you are given plenty of time in between them to get introspective on the instrumental tracks.My only complaints: the wave sounds at the end of some of the CDs, and the fact that the "Ebb Tide" CD (#3) drags a bit. I realize the decline of surf needs documentation as well, but I could have done without some of the selections on that disc.Overall, this is all the surf music a casual fan will ever need. As it becomes harder and harder to find, I will simply repeat my advice to purchase any copy you may find, at any price. Trade your car, your house, your firstborn...these things are overrated. A good surf collection is a treasure forever."
Sons Of The Beach
Clark Paull | Murder City | 04/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The very idea that simply buying a Chantays or Ventures compilation can somehow compare to owning this essential piece of American musical history is preposterous. Elitists in search of some sort of musical virtuosity may be better served searching out some Return To Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra albums, but for pure fun (which is what the spirit of rock and roll is supposed to be about, isn't it?), this is a can't miss. As we've come to expect from the geniuses at Rhino, this is magnificently packaged. I could do without some of the tracks containing vocals such as those by The Beach Boys, The Honeys, Al Casey with the K-C-Ettes, and Annette, but the sheer magnitude of reverb and twang contained on the rest of the tracks more than make up for it. Another minor quibble: three of the four discs cover the fertile seven-year period from 1960-1967, while the 18-year period from 1977-1995, containing material from revivalists like Teisco Del Rey, Laika & The Cosmonauts, The Aqua Velvets, and Man Or Astro-Man? is all crammed onto the fourth disc. It also would have been nice to see some tracks by the likes of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet and The Silencers, and more from The Ventures included, but I guess we'll have to wait for "Cowabunga! 2." Catch a wave and you're sittin' on top of the world..."
Viper | Toronto, Ontario | 03/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Alot Of the music was before my time but i found this to very uplifting and a value to anyone else. you should think about getting this set and any other set that is like this one. It will be money well spent."